Flexible Seating: The Why
We began our Flexible Seating journey in February 2016. We have had a flexible seating environment for over three months now. Today I wanted to reflect on the reasons why I implemented flexible seating in my classroom.
I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the amount of 'stuff' in our classroom. Twenty kids, twenty desks, and MORE supplies than any second grader would ever need. Not to mention all the extra stuff I had been collecting the past three years since I began teaching. We all needed a more open environment. What items did my second graders and myself need in order to be successful? I got rid of copies that I had electronic files for. I sent home student supplies that were not needed or necessary to be saved for the following year. LESS 'stuff' meant MORE room for learning.
My students are constantly collaborating. They collaborate at the Makerspace, Creation Station, Reading Centers, or when working on an assignment. The flexible seating options I chose for students allow for them to move their seating to where they are wanting or needing to work with their group members. Our classroom environment allows us to easily and seamlessly collaborate.
Students are more motivated and compliant when given choices. I try to differentiate to allow choice as much as possible. Instead of creating seating charts to separate chatty friends, I wanted students to learn, collaborate, and grow alongside those peers they trusted. I also wanted students to be able to choose to move more throughout the day. Students do not have to choose one spot for one subject area. They may work and move around the room to spots that work best for them.
Meeting the needs of all my diverse learners was the number one reason why I switched to a flexible seating environment. All students have unique learning styles AND preferences when it comes to working spots. I cannot create a product or work on a lesson plan by staying in one spot the whole time....and I don't expect my students to either! It's not natural. I specifically wanted my students who have difficulty attending and who are hyperactive to have seating and work spots catered to them. The difference I have seen so far has been remarkable. Instead of giving 5 or more verbal prompts to begin working, I now only need to give 1, 2, or none at all! My students who used to get up and pace the room aimlessly are not working at standing tables and able to complete their work! My students who are constantly moving are switching to different working spots every 7 minutes or so. They are working. They are focused. They are comfortable.
If you already have a flexible seating environment in your classroom, why did you decide to do so? If you are thinking about diving in and trying it out, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment below to share your personal experiences and ideas!
-Ashley from Talkin Pianta Teaching